Last Thursday I conducted a tasting at Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington D.C. A financial consulting firm I've done business with for a number of years asked that I host a tasting event for their male clients. Throughout the year they do special events for couples and have a number of Spa days for the ladies. The men whined a little about the lack of manly events so this was the first event for men (although plenty of woman drink and enjoy whiskey).
In my discussions with the client and the Whiskey Adviser at Jack Rose we settled on an American Whiskey line-up that featured Corn Whiskey all the way to Rye Whiskey in order to provide the tasters the experience of the sweet to the spice.
The lineup was as follows:
Corn - Berkshire Corn Whiskey: 90% corn, 10% barley aged 1 year @ 86 proof
Wheat - Bernheim Original, NAS @ 90 proof
Wheat Bourbon - Weller Special Reserve, NAS @ 90 proof
Low Rye Bourbon - Eagle Rare 10 yr @ 90 proof
Hi Rye Bourbon - Old Grand Dad 114, NAS @ 114 proof
Rye Whiskey - Rittenhouse BIB, 4 year (at least) @ 100 proof
I would normally situate the line-up low proof to high proof but in this instance delivered as shown in the list above.
The Berkshire Corn was a last minute replacement since Jack Rose has had difficulty sourcing Mellow Corn which is what I originally planned to feature which is too bad because it would have been a better selection. The Berkshire corn was light in color and the nose had a little new make quality to it. Entry was sweet with notes of vanilla and grain but then around mid palate white dog showed up and spoiled it. This selection needed more time in wood.
Bernheim Original was enjoyed by most because it's very approachable. Nice notes of sweet caramel, vanilla and a moderately decent finish. This was the NAS offering.....was hoping they would have had the 7 year available.
Weller Special Reserve was liked for the most part but really wasn't as special as the name implies. I've had bottles under the old label with the 7 year age statement on it and this release has lost a couple steps from years past. I let tasters know that this was the same mashbill from the same distillery that makes Pappy Van Winkle and I think that surprised a few of them.
Eagle Rare 10 year was probably the favorite among the group. Comments were made about how smooth and flavorful it was and it didn't "have that burn".
Old Grand Dad 114 was interesting because this split the group from those that liked it's robust profile to those that thought it was closer to gasoline. This is one of my favorite value shelf offerings and it was a favorite of the JR Whiskey Adviser as well.
Rittenhouse BIB was a good rye expression (even though the percentage of rye is closer to 51%) and I like it's aggressive entry. The Rittenhouse has always been in my bunker and was a go to for many years for sipping and mixing. Unfortunately, in my market it's become more difficult to find. There weren't many that liked this offering because it was too spicy and then there was "the burn".
The client suggested we do this again but next time bill it as a couples event since the ladies want to drink whiskey as well. I'm thinking an Around the World tasting could be the next event.
If you're ever in D.C. and you love whiskey, stop by Jack Rose and explore some of the 2,000 bottles on their Wall of Whiskey.
Photo courtesy of Jack Rose Dining Saloon